Transphobia is a series of interactive digital illustrations that explore the role of fear within the transgender experience from the viewpoint of trans individuals themselves. The project recontextualizes various aspects of transition into more widely held and relatable themes, such as those typically associated with actual, medically diagnosable phobias. I utilize stylized linework, curated color palettes, and specific use of contrast to support the uncomfortable, ominous, and otherwise otherworldly environments in which these narratives take place. The project’s interactive nature serves to both further these connections and reveal deeper layers of each portrayal, many of which were at first glance hidden or obscured, but can be uncovered through further user interaction and reflection.
The concept for this project was born from my personal understanding of the word “transphobia”, and how I’ve always found it, alongside other “-phobia” terms used to describe prejudice, to somewhat miss the mark. In both literary and contextual terms, the word falls somewhere in between actual phobias, such as arachnophobia or claustrophobia, and terms like sexism and racism. More often than not, it is the trans individuals themselves who live in constant fear, not only of those prejudiced against them, but of fully expressing themselves in a strictly cisnormative and gendered society. Therefore, I decided to take this “-phobia” suffix in a more literal sense for my project, and explore ways in which I could incorporate elements of horror, thrillers, and otherworldly or unsettling aesthetics into my own experiences as a transgender man and the larger trans experience as a whole.
This work stemmed from a desire to not only represent my personal struggles, fears, and difficulties throughout the course of my transition, but educate those who may not be aware of the legal and societal barriers trans individuals face every day in the United States. I believe this conversation is especially pertinent in present times, particularly in regard to our society’s divisive atmosphere revolving around the very notions of identity and difference. Rather than placing ideals of normalcy on the very aspects of humanity that make us unique, we must strive to embrace a culture in which everything outside of the privileged categories of cisgender, heterosexual, white, and male can be met with acceptance and understanding rather than with hatred, fear, and ignorance.
If you wish to purchase any of these pieces, please contact the gallery director, Jacqueline Nathan (firstname.lastname@example.org.)